Why You Won’t Create the Next Social Media Frenzy

Barechested Man Using DeodorantLast week Old Spice made some funny videos. Maybe you’ve heard about it?

Of course you have.

Now it is apparently time for you to learn from it, as you undoubtedly hope to be the next Old Spice-like thing that all the kids are talking about on the internets. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say it is very unlikely that Old Spice’s success can be replicated by you, or anyone. And I’m not saying that because I think Old Spice’s campaign was some perfect storm that wasn’t meant to take off like it did; it was clearly a well-engineered piece of awesome. And I’m not saying that we’ll never see a wildly popular campaign like this ever again; we will. But it won’t be anything like the Old Spice campaign because we’ve already seen that.

So in the same vein as all these guides to doing what Old Spice did, here is a list of reasons why you won’t create the next internet sensation:

1. You’re trying too hard. Your audience can smell desperation a mile away. The minute you set out to be the next big thing, you lose all sense of what works and what doesn’t for you and your product.

2. You’re not creative. There’s nothing interesting about what you’re saying or how you say it. Flash and sizzle can be nice, but if they’re only there to mask the epic boredom your campaign brings the viewer, it’s more of an incentive for the viewer to switch off.

3. You’re not funny. This may be the most important reason of all. It’s hard to be funny. It’s hard to know what’s going to make people (not just a few people, lots of people) laugh. It’s even harder to be funny in a way that no one else has tried before.

Experts can dissect the reasons why Old Spice’s campaign was a hit; they can talk about influencers and SEO and viral content until they’re blue in the face. But it all comes down to this: Old Spice did something funny, and they did it well, and they did it at the right time, and they did it in the right way, and now because of that, you cannot do what they did. Imitators will bore us at the very best, anger us at the very worst.

Study Old Spice if you like. Learn all you can about their successes. Apply what is relevant to your own work if you can. But don’t worry about creating the next The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. Someone already did that.

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  • http://twitter.com/thelandanimal Land Animal

    I think the trying to hard is the biggest offender. Lots of us competing for attention (myself included). I don't try to be funny though, in my defense.

  • http://twitter.com/thelandanimal Land Animal

    Many of us are guilty of trying to hard… and competing for attention… myself included. But, in my defense, I don't try to be funny.

  • http://twitter.com/PRPalPaul Paul C. Kluding

    This post reads like something critics probably wrote after the first successful viral video — it can't be replicated.

    Today, I think youtube and its millions of viewers a day might have a different opinion on that.

    Sure, using the exact model as Old Spice won't work, but there is no reason to believe using social media outlets to re-energize or introduce a brand won't be successful. Come on now. Of course it will. There are brilliant and creative minds out there ready to bounce on audiences craving for information and stimulation.

    So in other words, I couldn't disagree more with this post.

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    Hey Paul, I think perhaps you missed this section of the post:

    And I’m not saying that we’ll never see a wildly popular campaign like this ever again; we will. But it won’t be anything like the Old Spice campaign because we’ve already seen that.

  • http://twitter.com/PRPalPaul Paul C. Kluding

    Ah. Yes. I did miss that point. But I'm still not sure about your premise. Who would want to do exactly what the Old Spice team did, except maybe another deoderant company? Plus there's the whole parity angle. Here is a BYU parity on Old Spice that already has more than 1M views. And I've seen other parities pop us as well.

    http://bit.ly/9MptmG

  • http://www.daveharris.com Dave Harris

    Paul, parody, not parity.

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